Viking finish fifth in Irvine |

Viking finish fifth in Irvine

Steve Yingling

Dan Wilvers had never seen anything like it. Ten thousand people cheering for high school runners on Saturday night in Irvine.

The large throng of spectators may have contributed to the swift times as runners from throughout California took advantage of the flat Southern California course at the 26th annual Woodbridge Invitational.

“It was the most incredible cross country experience I have ever had,” the South Tahoe High coach said. “I have never seen the likes of the speed we saw (Saturday) night.

“My girls ran faster than they ever have in their lives.”

Eleven teams, including STHS, bested the benchmark team performance time of 92 minutes.

Freshman Kelsey Smith finished ninth to lead STHS to fifth-place overall in the sweepstakes division. The Vikings actually tied for fourth, but Crescenta Valley won a fourth-place tiebreaker. Saugus, Buchanan and Ayala captured the top-3 places.

Smith completed the 5-kilometer course in 17 minutes, 14 seconds, only 43 seconds behind winner Christine Babcock of host Woodbridge. Babcock’s winning time of 16:31 was 1 second off the meet record.

Smith averaged a blazing 5:44 per mile, while teammates Kylie Noll (25th) and Kate Lambdin (36th) also pushed the pace to 5:55 and 6:01 miles, respectively. Seniors Kimmy Arroues and Kelsey McClurg finished 71st and 81st, respectively in the 116-runner field.

Wilvers said many of the girls were crying afterward, thinking they had let down the program.

“They only knew their finish places and with the exception of (Smith) none had ever finished that far back in a race,” Wilvers said. “Needless to say, I awoke them to their incredible run, though it took some coaxing.”

Whittell runs in the snow

Meet conditions should only get easier the rest of the way for the Whittell High cross country team. Varsity members ran in a heavy snowshower on Friday in Tahoe City.

“It was snowing pretty good,” said Whittell coach Lindsay Wines.

Despite the conditions, Willis Hughes and David Hughes placed 28th and 29th in a field of 124 runners. They were separated by a second in the 3.3-mile run , with Hughes clocking in first at 21:28.

The Warriors’ best finish of the day was turned in by Adam Kingman in the freshman race. Kingsman finished fifth (19:08) out of 45 runners in a 2.7-mile race. Three other Warriors cracked the top 30, with Allen McLeod 14th in 20:13; Adam Laub 23rd in 21:11; and Chris Crawford 28th in 22:28. Ryan Bivens was timed in 25:19, a peformance that triggered praise from his coach.

In the girls’ freshman-sophomore race, Miranda Flores placed 33rd (25:36) out of 59 runners, while Amanda Heiser came in 45th and Anna Grigorieva 46th.

“We’ll have some more runners next week and we’ll finally have a complete team,” Wines said.

Top varsity girls’ team scores were Bret Harte, Calif, 82; Colfax 106; North Tahoe 126; Lowry 144; and Spring Creek 172. Varsity boys’ team scores were Colfax 48, Lowry 55, Spring Creek 91, Truckee 109 and North Tahoe 164.

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